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Craft Styles


New Craft Fairs Trying to Shake Things Up

12/22/05 - A new crop of urban craft fairs is breaking onto the scene, serving up everything but the ordinary. The vendors may have blue hair, but they are young and out to re-invent crafting.

Over the last few years, a new style of bazaars have popped up in New York and Los Angeles as well as in Boston, Atlanta and Seattle. The day or weekend-long markets feature jewelry, bags and housewares. The newer breed of craft bazaars add irony and whimsy to the spirit of entrepreneurship, community and creativity. "We are used to the suburban shows your mom and grandmother would go to," said Marisa Mouton of Urban Craft Uprising, a new craft bazaar in Seattle. "People are using the same methods and techniques that have been used for years, we're just putting an urban twist on it." This is the first year for Urban Craft Uprising. "There are a lot of Gen X- and Y-ers," said Mouton. "This is the place for the urban, hip mom who doesn't want to go to Gymboree or Baby Gap."

Leah Kramer was one of those Gen X-ers who was looking for a creative outlet. She found, and fell in love with, Bazaar Bizarre, Boston's urban craft fair. "In my 20s I felt all these crafty urges," said Kramer, now 31. At Bazaar Bizarre she found like-minded folks who had channeled their urban coolness and craftiness into businesses. "Crafting used to mean painted cows and hearts on boxes. There was a stigma attached to crafts."

It is largely women between 18 and 34 who are propelling the new urban craft fair. Many of the organizers see repeat customers who are simply looking for unique items they could not find anywhere else. "It's amazing the variety of people who show up," said Faythe Levine, co-organizer of Arts vs. Crafts in Milwaukee. "We get every type of person imaginable: parents, grandparents, families." A family from suburban Bellevue, Wash., regularly attends Seattle's I Heart Rummage craft fair, says Sam Trout, one of the few male event organizers. "The little girl buys a 'Devout Doll' each time," he said, referring to the series of handmade cloth dolls featured frequently at I Heart Rummage.

Simone Alpen, a Bazaar Bizarre organizer, notes that all participants share an appreciation of handmade items. "It's really meaningful to buy something from a person who has made it," she said. "It makes the item far more special." It is the communities' desire to support local artists that helps make these events successful. Vendors can make a few hundred dollars a day during the regular season, but business booms during the holidays. Trout says some vendors have made a thousand dollars in a single day. Trout also notes that a large number of vendors are featured in Lucky, the shopping magazine.

A 2001 Hobby Industry Association study showed that craft industry sales reached $29 billion in 2002, compared with $23 billion in 2000, and that 60 percent of American households participate in crafts and hobbies. Many crafters see their work as an alternative to consumer culture. Shows typically feature a large number of "eco-friendly" crafts, like reconstructed T-shirts, records sculpted into serving bowls, pens crafted from found wood and even stylish umbrellas woven from plastic garbage bags. The "Craftifesto" of Chicago's DIY Trunk Show states, "Craft is political. We're not just trying to sell stuff. We're trying to change the world. We want everyone to rethink corporate culture and consumerism." "We make sure that there is something for everyone," Levine said.

--Jessica Roberts, Columbia News


12/01/05 - The latest crafting-community buzzword: Craftivism

What is "Craftivism" ? Crafting for a cause. Whatever your skill level or your cause, there's a way to match your handiwork with someone who needs it. Donating a needed item you create yourself is a way to reach out, and an investment of time that can be done at your own convenience. Craftivism is offering a creative expression to a cause you believe in.

Trend: Costumes for Cell Phones and iPods

10/19/05 - Since Halloween retail sales are now second only to Christmas, "It was probably inevitable that the holiday would collide head-on with the hottest products," said Lisa Morton, author of The Halloween Encyclopedia. "Since you can't feed an iPod candy or carve it into a jack-o'-lantern," she said, "all that's left is dressing it in costume."

Your iPod can become a monster Oct. 31. Or maybe a pink monkey. "That's good for Halloween, since you don't find pink monkeys in nature," noted Shari Maxwell of Extreme Halloween Inc. in Dania Beach, Fla. Sales of the $10.95 outfits on the "Cell Phone Costumes" section of the company's Web site,, are so brisk that the staff is having trouble keeping up.Shanalyn Victor's Pixelgirl Shop (pixelgirlshop."om) sells furry "iPod monsters" in various colors for $30. Handmade by Ann Arbor, Mich., artist Marty Flint - and hard to keep in stock."It takes him an hour for each case," said Victor, also of Ann Arbor. "We've sold 30 or 40 in the last month or two."

Flattened Bottles

9/12/05 - New trend or old craft re-visited ? Flattened bottles are showing up at craft fairs.

Items made from recycled materials are gaining popularity. Glass bottles flattened into cheese boards or turned upside down as hummingbird feeders, used as Wall decor or for Tabletop use, the bottles have been spotted holding flowers, utilized as ashtrays, even used as unique promotional items.


7/21/05 - With embellishments one of the hottest trends in this season's shoes and sandals, combined with Americans' affinity for flip-flops, the thong sandal is increasingly showing up on store shelves, glammed up with beading, sequins, gems and other embellishments.

In craft stores, flip-flop kits are flying off the shelves, and some have created a sort of cottage industry of handcrafted sandals.

"We sold out of them very quickly," said Joe Berasley, store manager of Michael's Arts and Crafts, Spring Township, PA about the store's summer allotment of customizable flip-flops, a new product introduced this spring.

The same thing happened at A.C. Moore in Wyomissing, according to store manager Mike Tufano. Already sold out of the store's season allotment of flip-flops, Tufano said he had to order direct from the vendor to meet the demand. "They sell well," he said. A.C. Moore sells the shoes all with bright patterns and cute cartoony prints separately, along with an array of craft items such as beads, rhinestones, feathers, appliques and eyelash yarn to customize the straps. The store also offers an all-inclusive children's kit.

Making customized flip-flops is a trend that's been building for at least two seasons, said Diane Kozak, owner of Unraveled Yarn in Douglassville.

-- Elizabeth Giorgi, Reading Eagle, Pa.

A new trend has emerged in the art world: trash

7/11/05 - Exhibitions of artful trash are appearing in museums and galleries all over the US.

Fuller Craft Museum is tackling the trash topic on a regional scale with 112 east coast artists in Trashformations East.

The Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh has invited Lloyd Herman, founding director of the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery and Trashformations East curator, to jury the award Transformations: Contemporary Works in Found Materials.

The Addison Gallery of American Art's new exhibition Over + Over: Passion for Process features works by artists who use obsessively repetitive processes to transform ordinary materials into works of art.

Art from Detritus: Recycling with Imagination at the Synagogue for the Arts, New York includes work by 50 artists helping to save the planet through their art making.

The popularity of this and other recent exhibitions of art made from found objects and recycled materials have resulted in a flurry of media coverage. Several leading national newspapers, among other publications, have covered exhibitions of trash-turned-art in San Francisco, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and London.

The success of Trashformations East and similar exhibitions is due, in part, to the artists' use of ordinary materials in extraordinary ways. Fuller Craft Museum Director Gretchen Keyworth says, "Part of the fun of Trashformations is that it raises many questions - What is this made of? How did they do this? Is this art? And it is that moment -the 'ah ha' moment -that excites us when we recognize something familiar."

Artist Trading Cards

Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) are very small original works of art that are traded or "swapped" between artists and craftspeople. The activity combines creativity with the opportunity to network and share your art with others, and collect one-of-a-kind creations. ATCs are also known as Pocket Art, Miniature Art or Art in Your Pocket. The project was initiated in 1997 by Zurich artist M.Vanci Stirnemann.

The finished size must be 2.5" wide x 3.5" tall (64mm x 89mm), the same size as sports trading cards. This small format makes them fast and affordable to create, and easy to mail and trade. On the back of each card goes the artist's signature and contact info, title of the art piece, etc. If you plan to make more than one card of the same design, number the card and state how many there are in the edition.

Artists get together for trading sessions in-person, through web sites, or online mailing lists. Not all card trades are between the original artists, you can also swap cards received in a previous trade. There is only one rule (the size), everything else regarding the cards is left to the imagination of the artist.

TIP: The card base should be strong enough to withstand handling, mailing, and the weight of the design elements.

A new 'style' for Revell-Monogram

6/08/05 - Revell-Monogram -known for its die-cast, model-kits and slot cars,is moving into the D.I.Y. fashion realm with its new Style Studio line. The company, which has catered to an almost purely male-audience for decades is expanding into the female tween crafter market - a market that has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years.

The marketing tagline for this new venture is "make your statemen" and it can be said that the company is making its own statement about the potentially lucrative nature of the current female crafting market. The Studio Style line of products will include a number of fashion accessory projects. Girls will have the chance to decorate and personalize items like footwear, belts and purses.

The Revell-Monogram Style Studio line is expected to be on store shelves in time for the fourth quarter of 2005.

Alternative Crafting

5/12/05 - Your first clue that Michelle Russell and Meghan Maze might not be your average women throwing a Santa Cruz, CA craft show is the fuschia couches in Maze's living room. The second is the zipper-pull earrings that hang from Maze's ears and the fact there's not one hand-painted plaster bunny or silk-flower wreath anywhere in the whole darn house.

"We don't like cute," says Russell, who has a 21/2 -year-old and once sported Cal-Trans orange hair. "Well, maybe cute, but not cutesy," amends Maze, who was lead guitarist for an all-woman punk band once upon a time and now is raising two kids in a house with a killer view of the bay.

The fact that these two 37-year-olds can even tell the difference between cute and cutesy tells you this ain't your Aunt Betty's craft show. On Sunday, Russell, Maze and 60 other craftmakers-with- attitudes will fill the Louden Nelson Center for the first Craftalicious show, which will have things like hand-painted recycled T-shirts, soap molded into guns and roses, and porn-by- number paint kits. There won't be a knitted tea cozy in sight. Well, unless it's also ironic, says Maze.

The two Santa Cruz women, who have been known to go on all-night craft binges, are part of an underground craft movement in the US whose practitioners are the kind of people who would definitely run with scissors. As kids, Maze and Russell knitted and sewed and did crafts. As teenagers, they moved on to things like shaved heads and punk bands. But as middle-age approached and families arrived, they rediscovered their love for crafts. "We've moved from alternative to eccentric," says Maze with a laugh. They're radicals with glue guns; Martha Stewarts with a Che Guevera attitude. And they would never make anything normal.

For this visit, theyve spread out an array of their projects on Maze's dining room table - things like traditional geisha hair ornaments called Kanzashi that are made out of vintage fabrics, colorful button earrings, and leak-proof diaper covers they made out of soft old wool sweaters. There are Tim Burtonish purses with a drooping Christmas tree and a half-melted snowman. And onesies for hip babies.

Besides being cool and urban, the whole Craftalicious event also will have a little air of feminism and politics thrown in. "Craftivism," is what some call it. "We're fighting mass production," says Maze. "We're fighting the man." Then they laugh. You can't be too serious when you make knitted toilet paper covers with George Bush's portrait on them.

Alternative crafting is growing across the US with knitters who weave skulls into their handmade scarves or make cozies for their iPods. Alternative craft fairs like Feria Urbana in San Francisco and Bizarre Bizaar in L.A., are also springing up, along with craft subculture Web sites.

The women's idea to host their own craft fair came after Russell attended a local craft fair and couldn't find a thing she liked. "We should put on our own craft fair," Maze told Russell while they were hanging out together with their children four months ago. "I said 'no way,' "Russell says. Now, that's exactly what they're doing. "I don't know what I was thinking," Maze says.

There will be live music, baked goods from wedding cake designer Edith Meyer and a "Craft Corner Death Match," where two crafters will be given a few items and have to create something from them. And lots of things you've never seen at a craft fair before. Hand-carved spanking paddles anyone?

--Peggy Townsend / Santa Cruz Sentinel

A new trend is emerging in craft design, and it isn't cute

Fueled by a younger demographic and the personalization/customization trend, consumers are now looking to express their individuality.

The Look

More sophisticated. No rosy-cheeked chicks, ducks in bonnets, or bunnies peeking through daisies. The emerging style is urban, artsy, unique to the creator. And the new direction doesn't follow a pattern.

Urban style, popular culture, world events, media trends, club culture, generational shifts, fashion, and more are influencing this quiet revolution. The noted decline in some craft categories such as decorative painting and counted crosstitch relate to this directional change. Equally related are the growth in categories of altered art, scrapbooking (edgier looks coming in), and trendy ideas for the popular knitting segment.

Harley Davidson brand expanding into the craft market.

Handcrafted Graphics

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